Carnival Row (Season 2), Episodes 5 & 6: Carnival Row returns for its fifth and sixth episodes in what is yet another mixed outing overall. It is created by Rene Echevarria and Travis Beacham and executive produced by Marc Guggenheim, René Echevarria, Jon Amiel, Travis Beacham, Cara Delevingne, and Orlando Bloom.

Julian Holmes is the director for these two episodes. He has previously directed episodes of popular series such as The Boys, American Gods, Suits, and Daredevil.

Carnival Row (Season 2), Episodes 5 and 6 Recap:

Episode 5 – Reckoning

This episode, which marks the halfway point for the second season, opens with Philo (Orlando Bloom) returning home and being followed by a furious Kaine (Jay Ali), who blames him for everything that went wrong in the previous episodes. However, Philo expects him and ambushes him. The two engage in a brief scuffle where Philo eventually overpowers Kaine and is in a position to kill him but chooses not to. Instead, he spares him so that they can work together to free Vignette (Cara Delevingne) from prison. Despite lingering tension and being injured, they agree to work together for her sake.

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Tourmaline (Karla Crome) decides to use her new powers to see what is happening to Vignette, in spite of Darius’s (Ariyon Bakare) objections and pleas to the contrary. She sees a horrifying vision where Vignette is seemingly executed by guillotine, which she quickly conveys to Philo.

Philo and Vignette had decided that breaking her out of prison, Bleakness Keep, would be impossible. But once they receive word from Tourmaline, they decide to break her out of Bleakness Keep that very night.

Meanwhile, Vignette’s trial at the courthouse has started, where several people are calling for her to be executed. Sergeant Dombey (Jamie Harris) gives an exaggerated version of events and stops just short of mentioning that he was saved by Philo, replacing that by saying his fellow officers showed up in the nick of time to save him. When given an opportunity to speak, Vignette merely spits at the court and causes another uproar.

Runyon Millworthy’s (Simon McBurney) scheming to partially reopen Carnival Row and grant freedom to some fae seems to have worked, as The Burgue has managed to deliver the first shipment of weapons to The Pact. The Ambassador thanks him, but Major Vir remains suspicious as to why he would take the risk in the first place. He then reveals he has investigated Millworthy’s past and knows that he has fae sympathies. Vir then subtly threatens Millworthy. However, Millworthy remains unfazed, simply saying that his motives are his own.

Just outside Carnival Row, Sophie Longerbane (Caroline Ford) and her faun friend and maid Jenila or ‘Nilly’ (Sinead Phelps) see Nilly’s brother released to be allowed to work in the factories, with everyone paid a week’s wages in advance. The two confidently bask in the glory of their plan working so far and further plot how to make Sophie chancellor of The Burgue.

Unfortunately for her, Jonah Breakspear (Arty Froushan) has been informed by Minister Winetrout that Sophie Longerbane has indeed bought all the arms factories and is making a profit from the sales. He presents Jonah with proof as he had asked, and Jonah has no choice but to accept it as the truth.

To confirm it in his own way, he pretends to accept Sophie’s previous offer of marriage from Season 1, despite both of them knowing that they are half-siblings, which she doesn’t reject but suggests deferring to after the next elections. This confirms Jonah’s suspicions, and he covertly has Sophie arrested by men pretending to be doctors.

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Jonah also confronts Millworthy with the fact that he was conspiring with The Pact without his knowledge to sell their weapons, which Millworthy doesn’t deny. He only defends himself by saying that he was acting for Jonah’s benefit and wanted to protect him, especially from himself. He is also sent to Bleakness Keep to be executed.

At Bleakness Keep, Sophie is put in a cell near Vignette, who shows her hostility for her role in locking up Carnival Row, though Sophie says she was acting to make things better. Sophie laments that women in society are expected to be obedient and should have burnt everything down when she had the chance, as violence is all men understand. Vignette finds that she and Sophie have much in common and bond over their hatred of men in power.

Philo and Kaine are on their way to Bleakness Keep to rescue Vignette, and the former steals a policeman’s uniform by drugging him. They intend to enter covertly, with Kaine acting as an escaped prisoner to create a diversion that Philo can use to look for Vignette.

Jonah visits Sophie in her cell, asking her to sign a confession form that would spare her life but take away all that she owns. Sophie angrily tears up the paper, and Jonah decides to proceed with her execution. Vignette calls him a monster, and he decides to have her executed too. The two of them and Millworthy are taken to the courtyard for execution. Sophie is the first to be beheaded by the guillotine, and she does so with dignity, telling Jonah not to look away. He doesn’t but vomits immediately after she is executed.

Carnival Row (Season 2) Episodes 5 & 6

Next in line is Vignette, who is strapped into cuffs but is spared as the executioner is suddenly killed. At this point, the mysterious creature that is responsible for the mysterious murders this season appears and murders the guards present in a most gruesome manner. Jonah Breakspear is also killed; his corpse lies next to Sophie’s.

Philo and Kaine enter the courtyard, having broken into the prison, and are shocked to see what has happened. A shaken Millworthy, the only survivor, reveals that the creature did not kill Vignette but instead freed her, and she flew away. They manage to catch sight of the creature flying away, and before they can do anything else, more guards arrive and hold them at gunpoint.

Episode 6 – Original Sin

This episode places us back in Ragusa with Imogen (Tamzin Merchant) and Agreus (David Gyasi), who wake up in the morning and resume their argument from the previous episode. Agreus doesn’t trust the New Dawn and their communist ways, while Imogen believes that they can be happy there. She reveals to him that Leonora has threatened to kill Agreus if he doesn’t begin to believe in their cause soon, and Agreus finally agrees to change for Imogen’s sake. The two then proceed to have passionate sex.

Later, at breakfast, Kastor (George Georgiou) joins them and is pleasantly surprised that Agreus has changed his mind. Coincidentally, the day is also the anniversary of the birth of the New Dawn, which is to be celebrated. He reveals to Imogen and Agreus the origin of the society by telling them Leonora’s story. He shares with them a manifesto Leonora wrote while in prison for stealing from her master’s table.

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The two of them appear amazed and inspired, but as soon as Kastor leaves, Imogen reverses her previous desire to stay and agrees with Agreus to leave. Agreus plans to leave the factory with the help of an accomplice, and they decide to leave via a cargo ship that night during the party.

While working in the factory, Agreus is escorted to Leonora (Joanne Whalley), who shows him Ezra (Andrew Gower) tied up as her prisoner. His plan has clearly failed, and Ezra’s life is put in Agreus’s hands, and while he contemplates killing him, he ultimately chooses to spare him. Leonora says that means having to take responsibility for his life.

Imogen is furious with Ezra and his narrow-mindedness, and when he is still unable to see her point of view, she decides to leave him behind but is persuaded otherwise by Agreus. Agreus and Ezra then understand where Ezra will follow Agreus to ensure all three of them can escape from Ragusa.

At this point, a flashback to seven years ago begins, set in Tirnanoc (the homeland of the fae) during the war between The Pact and The Burgue. Philo and Darius, who were soldiers in the war, are fighting off The Pact’s soldiers as Philo covers an injured Darius’s escape. Philo is about to be overwhelmed but is saved by the arrival of the same creature from the previous episode, the one responsible for the prison massacre. It changes into a human and says it spared Philo since he was half-fae.

The creature is identified as a Sparas, a monster long thought to be extinct, and Philo recommends joining forces with the Sparas so they can aid The Burgue soldiers as they flee. However, the commanding officer decides to bomb the Sparas’ valley and slow down The Pact’s advance. Philo officially has his objections noted on the record but reluctantly carries out the order and sees the Sparas burn.

The flashback ends here as Philo is being tortured for information on what happened in the courtyard by the prison warden. Officer Berwick (Waj Ali) and Sergeant Dombey convince the warden to stop the torture, each in their own way, and Philo begins to hallucinate a version of himself who calls him out on various things.

These include his self-hatred, his keeping his fae heritage secret, his cowardice at times, his ignoring the suffering of the fae for his own profit, and more. While obviously not true, these accusations and mocking affect Philo deeply, and this back-and-forth between the hallucination and the real man continues throughout the second half of the episode.

Berwick revisits Philo and asks for his help in catching the Sparas as he believes that the murders weren’t random as each killing was carried out in such a manner that widened the divide between fae and humans. The supply train that was robbed in the first episode had an officer look like the Black Raven murdered him, and Dahlia was staged to look like she was murdered by humans, not to mention the courtyard massacre, which even killed the chancellor. However, despite hearing this, Philo tells Berwick to leave him alone.

At Carnival Row, Vignette goes to Tourmaline at the witch’s shop and is surprised to know that Philo wanted to save her despite getting in her way in previous episodes. She reminisces with Tourmaline on their shared romantic past and believes that was the last time she was truly happy in her life. She is shocked to learn from Tourmaline that she saw herself die and proposes to run away. But Tourmaline calls her out for not following through on her promises in the past, causing Vignette to apologize. Vignette also eats a dinner prepared by Darius, and the two express their dislike of the other.

Carnival Row (Season 2), Episodes 5 and 6 Ending Explained:

The Burgue and its government are in chaos without Jonah and Sophie as they also try to search for the fae criminals that the Sparas released from Bleakness Keep. Millworthy attempts to leave politics behind once and for all, despite being invited by representatives to join an interim government. Major Vir, however, manipulates him into staying by pointing out the plight of the fae, given recent events, as most people want them dead. He even mentions the possibility of Carnival Row being burnt down to the ground, which horrifies Millworthy, as Vir reveals they want to avoid The Burgue having their own civil war.

Kaine and Phaedra, another Black Raven, go to Vignette and vaguely speak of grand plans that they want Vignette to join them as they believe that she is the best of them. Supposedly, these plans are even bigger than anything that the Black Raven ever managed. Vignette, however, refuses as she realizes Tourmaline is more important than all that, and she walks away from the cause.

Back in Philo’s cell, he continues to hallucinate his negative self as Sergeant Dombey has gone to the higher-ups to have Philo released into police custody on the provision that he helps them catch the Sparas. Philo agrees to do so to get out of prison.

The Sparas clearly have enough reason to hate The Burgue, given that their military destroyed their home and killed many of them. Philo sympathizes, and it is implied he may not actually want to help the police catch the monster. It will be interesting to see how he acts moving forward.

The government of the Burgue will be headed by Millworthy in all but name, presumably, as he’s the only major political character left alive after these episodes. His back and forth with Major Vir will be fascinating to watch as it progresses further, and it puts Millworthy in a difficult position as he has to juggle many things. His pro-fae agenda, calming the humans, keeping The Pact and the New Dawn at bay, and stabilizing The Burgue are sure to stretch him thin.

Carnival Row (Season 2), Episodes 5 and 6 Review:

The plot moves at breakneck speed in these two episodes, which is both a boon and a bane. The fast pacing helps us finally get Philo back to investigating crimes, which is what he does best. But on the downside, it also feels rushed, especially as two major players in, Jonah and Sophie, are taken down in one fell swoop, in the same scene, no less. Bringing the Sparas out of nowhere in a poorly placed flashback also feels very jarring and awkward to watch, as does the interaction of Philo with his hallucination.

On the other hand, Millworthy joining the government in a genuine position of power is positive, as is his long-running game of mind games and chess with Major Vir. That was, in fact, the highlight of these two episodes, as each of them is trying to second guess the other and remain one move ahead.

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Carnival Row (Season 2) Episodes 5 & 6 Cast: Orlando Bloom, Cara Delevingne, Simon McBurney
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